UM System announces hiring of national consultant to provide guidance to sexual assault and mental health services task force


Christian Basi

April 16, 2014

National Center for Higher Education Risk Management to provide third-party assessment of sexual assault and mental health services resources on the four campuses

COLUMBIA, Mo. – The University of Missouri System will be employing the services of one of the nation’s top higher education risk management consultants as the latest milestone in its commitment to a safe, secure and respectful campus environment. President Tim Wolfe announced today the hiring of the National Center for Higher Education Risk Management (NCHERM) group, a law and consulting practice that has served the higher education field for 15 years, to provide a third-party assessment of the materials collected by the sexual assault and mental health services task force that list the sexual assault and mental health services resources on the four campuses.

The NCHERM group, which currently represents 35 colleges and universities as outside counsel while providing consulting services to more than 3,000 clients, offers expertise for high-risk campus health and safety issues such as sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, Title IX and student suicide, among many other issues. The group will be reviewing and assessing the volume of materials detailing resources on the four campuses collected by the task force, and providing an independent analysis of those resources which will be used in the task forces’ final recommendations.  

“We are pleased to be able to utilize the expertise of the nationally-renowned NCHERM group, whose credible, independent analysis of our current resources will help us to improve in the way we serve people on our four campuses in terms of sexual assault prevention, reporting and education, and mental health service delivery,” President Wolfe said. “We will be examining their analysis and, together with the task force’s recommendations, the findings of the independent counsel and my recent executive order strengthening our Title IX reporting policy, will better be able to foster a campus culture of safety and respect.”

“We are looking forward to working closely with the NCHERM group as we continue to address these issues that are critical to the safety and security of our four campuses,” said Steve Owens, General Counsel for the University of Missouri System. “Our goal in this comprehensive self-examination process is to make the University of Missouri a model of safety on our campuses and on Title IX reporting and compliance, and have other universities to look to our university as the standard of how to approach these difficult, societal issues.”

The hiring of the NCHERM group is the latest step in the university’s systematic process to improve as an organization in terms of reporting and preventing sexual assault, and mental health service delivery. Since January, President Wolfe established the task force, which completed the first phase of its work by inventorying all the sexual assault/mental health services resources on the four campuses and is now onto phase two, which is assessing those resources; the University of Missouri Board of Curators hired the Dowd Bennett Law Firm, an outside independent counsel, to investigate if university employees acted consistent with policy and the law in the matter of Sasha Menu Courey, a former MU student-athlete that later committed suicide, and; President Wolfe issued an executive order that strengthens the university’s Title IX reporting procedure for employees in cases where a student is the victim of an alleged sexual assault or harassment.

“Every college and university in the country is facing challenges with prevention and response to campus sexual violence,” said Brett A. Sokolow, Esq., President and CEO of the The National Center for Higher Education Risk Management Group, LLC. “We are pleased to have the opportunity to partner with the University of Missouri System and its four state universities to help them to become exemplars not just of compliance, but of excellence, in the face of this challenge.”